Column: Spots in Time

Holiday lights in our lives

If we look around this city of ours, we can see that it’s well-lit at Christmas time. Not every house is lit up with strings oflights, but most are. In the midst of winter snows and sub-zero temperatures, these lights cast a glow of hope andcelebration.

It was exactly the same for our ancestors of many centuries ago. At the coldest and darkest time of the year (December 21and on), they looked to greenery and red berries to remind them of summer. Candles were the lights that glowed on thetrees and throughout the houses.

The exteriors of their homes were not lit up like ours. They did, however, have wreaths on their doors and boughs ofevergreens strung along porches. They had the same spirit we have about the need to be joyous and happy at Christmastime, and they had their own way of showing that.

In our time, the period of Christmas festivities has increased. Christmas activities and hype seem to begin about the firstweek of November. Much of this has to do the push by corporations and merchants to get their products out to the widestpossible audience and to sell as many of the new gadgets as possible. But some of the blame for the early rise of Christmashas to do with us consumers who seem to like the long lead-up to December 25.

A number of our friends and neighbours begin stringing their Christmas lights in early November. Partly it’s a chance to getthe lights in place along eave-troughs, windows, and doorways without freezing your fingers. But partly it’s to say the lightsbrighten up their lives, so why not enjoy them for longer?

Being a bit of a Grinch about Christmas, I refused for many years to put up our Christmas lights until after December 15.The lights usually remain in place until early January, so I figured that a three-week period was long enough. My friend Jalways joked that I waited for the coldest day of the year to install my lights, so I could complain further about howChristmas was overdone.

Well, I’ve mellowed. I now set out the lights on or about December 1. It’s a standing joke with my friend L that if lights areglowing on my house before December 1, then he thinks he might have come to the wrong house. I do agree in terms ofweather it’s certainly more comfortable putting up lights in late November.

When I finally flip the switches for my exterior lights on December 1, I realize I am in sync with my neighbours. At this stageof my life that’s somehow become more important. The city itself always beats me to it. In November, the city lights thetelephone pole wreaths and banners along the major streets and strings spectacular twinkling lights on groves of trees suchas those at the intersection by the Fireside.

In fact, by December 1st Castlegar is a veritable light factory lights beginning to appear everywhere, and store ownersand homeowners rushing to get their light displays in place. Store windows get covered, artificial and natural trees get lit upin windows and other open spaces. With the advent of plastic Santa, elves, and snowmen figures that can be interspersed indisplays along with lights, impressive scenes are everywhere.

It will certainly be worth a drive an evening or two before Christmas to view the millions of lights we decorate our city with.Perhaps the glow of lights will be a reminder of the bright star that began it all 2015 years ago.